Depression is often rooted in a chemical imbalance involving dopamine. You can take control of your mental health by incorporating natural dopamine boosters into your lifestyle. The key to managing depression is to address the CAUSE of the depression as opposed to the SIDE EFFECTS of the depression. There are many natural solutions that can help.
Dopamine is a chemical present in the human brain that allows us to feel or experience happiness, pleasure, concentration and motivation. Your nerve cells – neurons – communicate throughout the brain via a complex communication system of receptors. The neurotransmitter, dopamine, is pretty much the fluid on which information flows through the brain.
When there is not enough dopamine present in the brain, proper regulation of emotions is not possible. Where the brain would normally assist in processing sad feelings, this becomes a difficulty and sometimes not even possible. The most definitive signs of dopamine imbalance very closely mirror clinical or chronic depression. Some of these symptoms include lack of interest in things one once enjoyed, lack of motivation, insomnia, mood swings, suicidal ideation, poor impulse control, self-destructive or self-harming behaviors and impaired concentration.
Some non-invasive ways to boost your dopamine levels are:
Limit your intake of sugar
Sugar is a fairly toxic substance in many ways, but for our purposes, we are looking at how sugar affects dopamine stability. We know that when we consume sugar, our bodies experience a sugar spike. This spike will cause a depletion of dopamine in the brain. It is interesting to note that sugar will stimulate the same pathways affected by alcohol or drugs. Once your dopamine is depleted, your body will crave sugar – just as though it were an actual addiction.
The brain uses amino acids as the raw material in the creation of neurotransmitters. The very stuff of which protein is made, there are 20 various amino acids that comprise the protein utilized for cell repair and regeneration in the human body. The brain requires l-phenylalanine as the raw materials in the production of dopamine. Phenylalanine is one of the amino acids that the body cannot make by itself. We need to get it from our diet or via a supplement. The body then converts the phenylalanine to tyrosine, which is then used to produce dopamine.
Ripe bananas are an excellent source of not only tyrosine but of potassium as well. Almonds, apples, cherries, beans, eggs and yogurt are all also great healthy sources of the tyrosine necessary to help regulate your levels of dopamine.
Foods alone oftentimes don’t possess enough amino acids to boost dopamine for someone challenged with major depression. If you have having difficulty with dopamine levels, tyrosine supplements may be indicated.
Reduce consumption of products containing caffeine.
Coffee and energy drinks contain enough caffeine to provide the energy boost we seek, but this is only a temporary solution. Furthermore, once you get that initial rush of energy, your dopamine levels will decrease. Switch to decaf and decrease the amounts of all other drinks and substances containing caffeine.
Make time to take care of YOU!
In a perfect world, we would all get a good 8 hours of restful sleep per night. Physical activity and exercise is also known to help stabilize and regulate your dopamine levels. Restful sleep avails the brain the time it requires to “reboot” from the stimuli of the preceding day. Neurotransmitters are also recharged during restful sleep. Exercise or physical activity gets your blood moving and this can leverage production of a variety of hormones to healthy levels in the body.
Don’t stress out!
We all know that high levels of stress are bad for us. What many of us don’t realize is that stress is not just caused by external factors. Poor adrenal function can cause an internal stress that can wreck havoc with our dopamine levels. If you are experiencing chronic stress in your day to day life, seek help in managing this; no one should have to live with chronic stress. If stress is not addressed in a healthy fashion, a dopamine imbalance could prove to be the least of your worries.
Up your magnesium intake
Magnesium is that element that rather helps everything else work correctly. Further, there is hard science behind the fact that a magnesium deficiency affects dopamine directly. Magnesium helps with relaxation, supports multiple body systems, aids in regulating high blood pressure, muscle pains, sprains, restless leg syndrome, headaches, anxiety and irritability. Visit your healthcare professional for a blood or urine test to check out your magnesium levels. It is believed that over fifty percent of adult Americans are deficient in magnesium. If warm baths are your thing, consider Epsom salt baths, perhaps with some lavender added in.
Take your vitamins!
A daily multi-vitamin can go far in stabilizing multiple body systems. In addition, the antioxidants found in vitamins E and C are dense enough to aid the body in supporting the neurons that use dopamine.
These may seem like simple solutions, but their effects are far-reaching. Take care of YOU.